Clinical Equipment Pool Management and Tracking
In 2013 we were approached by one of New Zealand’s largest hospitals to design and develop a low-cost custom solution to help better manage the transfer of assets belonging to a Clinical Equipment Pool (CEP). This pool consisted of approximately 750 medical assets that were being regularly transferred between the pool and various departments, with up to 100 transactions per day. Such transactions were captured using labour intensive, manual processes that required staff to complete entries on whiteboards and in a sign-out book. This system provided no means of data analysis or reporting which presented further challenges for hospital administrators and department managers.
Our solution, the ‘Clinical Equipment Tracking System,’ enabled the equipment attendants and biomedical staff to reassign assets from the central pool to a department, or vice versa, in a matter of seconds. This is achieved by scanning the barcode of the asset and the barcode of the destination with a small wireless handheld Bluetooth barcode scanner. This Bluetooth barcode scanner is synchronised to a nearby iPad running our proprietary application that is interfaced to the hospital’s biomedical asset register. At two clicks of a button, the asset location updates in real time.
Through further R&D we were able to further automate the solution via the deployment of Bluetooth low energy (BLE) beacons which were affixed to the assets. Once these assets arrived in a particular location (e.g. the CEP store or a department’s equipment store), the asset location would update automatically once the sensor detected the beacon accompanying the asset. Although the client’s funding for the implementation of this enhancement was withdrawn due to competing project of a similar nature, the technology has been developed, tested, and proven as a reliable, cost effective and efficient solution. The implementation of such would suit any hospital group seeking to improve the efficiency and reduce the management costs associated with operating a central pool of assets.
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